Toronto native, former NBA All-Star and 12-year NBA veteran center Jamaal Magloire joined the Raptors staff last year after playing for the team in 2011-2012 and has been working with the Raptors’ young center Jonas Valanciunas. As a recently retired player, Magloire participated in training camp and brings a unique perspective to coaching big men.
“I have the opportunity to not only help these guys get better, but to work alongside with them and it feels good,” Magloire said. “I am enjoying the game. I am humbled by the opportunity Masai (Ujiri) has given me to work with the big men. I take my job very seriously and ultimately how the team does is a reflection on myself.”
Still physically strong and full of veteran tricks, Magloire can work out the much younger Valanciunas in the post without resorting to pads or leaving space. A practice session against Magloire looks real and Valanciunas can bang, bump and try to finish over the 6’11 coach without holding back.
Working against Valanciunas up close, Magloire can see the improvements Valanciunas made to his body over the summer and has a player’s perspective on his potential.
“Obviously in the two seasons that we have seen (Valanciunas) he has improved from last year,” Magloire said. “He has great work ethic. I think he is 265 lbs and under 9 percent body fat. There is a lot to be said about that. I think that he has a world of talent and if he continues to work day-in and day-out, he will be an All-Star in this league.”
Magloire was a top 10 rebounder in the NBA for several seasons and a shot close to 50 percent from the field for his career. Valanciunas is starting to bring his rebounding rate up to similar levels and his shooting percentages, while down from last season, are still hovering close to Magloire’s career average.
“He is very efficient,” Magloire said. “I am sure that if he is not shooting over 50 percent, he is very close. That is good for somebody at his position and that is what we need him to do.
“I think he is doing a pretty good job. Whether its jump shots or backing guys down, he is taking what the defense gives him and he is finishing. He can shoot the ball as well as post up and it is up to him.”
However, Valanciunas still has things to work on and Magloire sees a lot film sessions and practice in the young center’s future. Valanciunas isn’t getting all the touches he would like and at times, he doesn’t get the post position he should or finish as well as he is able. Last year Valanciunas scored 66.2 percent of the time in the restricted area and so far this season, that’s down to 53 percent. It doesn’t necessarily get any easier as teams learn Valanciunas’ tendencies.
“(Valanciunas will be) watching a lot of film and seeing the things that he is not doing and making sure he doesn’t make that same mistake twice,” Magloire explained. “He is continuing to do that day-in and day-out. At times it may be tiring. At times it may be repetitious, but to make it to the next level for him, it is going to take a lot of work.”
Willingness to work hasn’t been a concern. Everyone involved with Valanciunas praises his work ethic and desire to improve. The 21-year-old center is just scratching the surface of his potential, but it will take time before he puts everything together. In the meantime, it all gets back to practice and learning the game and having a recently retired All-Star center to bang against on the practice court has to help speed this process along.
“It starts in practice,” Magloire said. “How he practices is ultimately how he plays. He has a good future.”
Magloire’s title is Basketball Development Consultant and Community Ambassador, but he can still bring it on the practice court like he just stopped playing yesterday – which is almost the case.